Actuarialist is another term for a person who practices actuarial science, or an actuary. An actuary is a specialised statistician who assesses risk on behalf of businesses. Actuaries are vital employees in the insurance industry, but can work in other industries as well. As a specialised employee, they are generally well-paid.
Actuaries take data and determine the probability of events like illness, injury, damage, loss of property or death. They also establish the likely cost of these events. This allows companies to figure how much of a return they will receive or how much they should charge a customer or as a premium. Actuaries also consult with investors to help them make sound financial decisions.
The income of an actuary can come from several sources. Most actuaries receive some form of salary, along with other compensation such as bonuses, profit sharing, commission and retirement benefits. According to PayScale.com, the total average annual compensation for an actuary as of December 2010 is between £36,530 and £72,055. The amount of compensation increases with experience and additional certification. According to actuarial recruitment firm D.W. Simpson, it is not unusual in 2010 for highly qualified actuaries with over 20 years’ experience to receive total compensation packages in the £195- to £260,000 range.
Most actuaries work for a firm or company. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 55 per cent of all actuaries work in the insurance industry. Some actuaries work as self-employed independent consultants, accepting projects with various clients. It is a stable career with stable hours, though competition is fierce for those breaking into the field.
A bachelor’s degree with a focus in a mathematics-related major or actuarial science is necessary to become an actuary. Graduates can find actuarial work right after school, but the highest salaries go to those actuaries that have their Fellowship. There is a series of examinations taken over four to eight years after graduation, leading to full certification. The Associate level requires five to seven examinations in addition to other classes and coursework. After the completion of two additional exams and coursework, Associates achieve their Fellowship.